The Kerala High Court, on Wednesday, asked the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to produce the files that recommended the cancellation of the Malayalam news channel MediaOne for ‘national security reasons’.
The order came during the hearing of the petition challenging channel’s license cancellation.
The court also deferred the Union Government’s order barring telecast of the channel until the next hearing on Monday.
On January 31, MediaOne went off air after its license renewal was denied by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting citing national security reasons.
“MediaOne channel telecast has once again been disallowed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, citing security reasons. The Government has not been forthcoming with the details. MediaOne is taking urgent legal steps for the restoration of the channel, and hope to get back to the viewers as soon as we can. For the time being, we are suspending our telecast, confident that justice will prevail,” wrote the channel.
The channel had previously been banned for 48 hours in 2020 for allegedly violating the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1998 during its reportage of the Delhi riots that year.
Shortly after the channel’s telecast was suspended on Monday, its operator Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited filed a writ petition before the High Court seeking to set aside the order issued by the I&B Ministry. The petition stated that the channel was not involved in any sort of anti-national activity.
It is notable that, according to The News Minute, many of the investors in the company are members of the Kerala chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami.
During the hearing of the petition on Monday, the channel’s counsel had said that a show cause notice was issued to MediaOne on January 5 asking why the Centre should not revoke its license in consideration of national security and public order. While the company had responded seeking an opportunity for hearing, the Ministry had ignored this and revoked its permission with immediate effect, he added.
The channel’s counsel further mentioned that such a notice can only be served by the Ministry of Home Affairs and not the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
During Friday’s hearing, Justice N Nagaresh pointed out that there is no point in serving a show cause notice if the reason for cancellation cannot be revealed. He then directed the Union Government to produce the relevant files that cited national security reasons and recommended the cancellation of the channel’s license.